How to Play Christmas Tunes by Ear

The holiday season is a great time for learning tunes by ear because: Tunes that are this familiar are the easiest to pick out by ear. Knowing a few seasonal favorites are likely to come in handy for festivities wherever there’s a piano nearby. Learning tunes by ear tends to fix them in your long-term memory, so you’ll be able to easily recover them for future holiday seasons. Steps to Playing by Ear 1. Work Out the Melody Find the first note – Many tunes begin on the tonic note but you can’t count on it. For example, “Mary Had a Little Lamb” starts on the third note of a major scale. Sing the first note of the Christmas melody while playing up the scale until you find a match. For example, playing the C scale while singing the first note of Silent Night reveals that G is the first … Read more…

Playing Pop Tunes by Ear

It’s autumn and football season is in full gear in Ohio.  Ever since The Ohio State University Marching Band started playing the 1965 #1 hit, “Hang On Sloopy” by The McCoys (an Ohio based band), it’s been synonymous with OSU football.  No Buckeye game experience is complete without it and fans go berserk whenever the band pulls it out. This song has become such a regional phenomenon that in 1985, the General Assembly voted to adapt it as the official rock song of the state of Ohio.  Now that it is practically illegal NOT to play this tune around here, most of the local middle and high school bands also include it in their ritualized football repertory. So when I came across a clarinet part fluttering in the wind in the school parking lot, I naturally snatched it up, took it home and stuck it on my studio wall.  Since … Read more…

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